When you end up questioning the point of everything, when you’re left pondering whether anything of consequence really happened, and you do all those things after a frigging 36 episode series ends, then something is very very wrong. Durarara!!x2 is something that’s very very wrong. The series is a disappointment, of that I’ve been sure of since the second cour of this sequel ended. This series, which was a sequel to one of the best anime shows and franchises ever, ended in a way that left me even more disappointed than I thought possible. I never expected the final two episodes of Durarara!!x2 to win me over, but what I wasn’t prepared for, was an ending that pretty much just went back to square one, refusing to resolve anything and really just rendering everything utterly and completely pointless.
The problem with Durarara!!x2 is that it never really does anything to change or develop the status quo. It doesn’t change its characters, the struggles they run into don’t influence or improve or even ruin them in any way. Stuff just happens and the characters get caught up in those events, only to revert back to whatever status quo they were at the start of the series.
As episode 36 concluded, I was left with only one question: “Is that all that this 3-cour series was building up to?” Is it all just a case of “Its all well that ends well?”. Do all these characters get happy endings, and do they all just survive with literally no changes? Is no character actually evil? Does death, pain, retribution and just simply change not happen in this series?
It sure seems like it, because every story that we see resolve by the finale, doesn’t so much as resolve as it circles back to the beginning. Make sense? No? Alright let me elaborate.
First lets tackle Mikado, Anri and Kida. I mentioned in my last post for episode 34, that if Mikado were to shoot Kida, then he’d go past the point of no return. There would be no retribution for him, nor would he be a character that would deserve a happy ending. And yet, after all that Mikado does, his friends and literally the entire cast end up forgiving him, and on top of that even Anri decides that she loves the guy?
How friggin messed up is that? Mikado friggin shoots Kida, and he goes as far as to kill himself, before Celty comes in and stops him. What is the moral of this story? Hell, screw morals and lessons, what is the point of all of this? Does Mikado’s whole thing about rejecting the normal just get thrown out the window? Is he just looking to become a part of the same world as his friends? It all doesn’t make sense nor is it explained to a satisfactory degree.
In the end, Mikado does a bunch of crazy, messed up stuff, and its all washed away by the fact that he pushes Anri out of the way and ends up getting stabbed by Nishijima. And Nishijima, by the way, who’s made out to be the villain in this so called arc, if you can call it that, ends up not even getting killed himself. Yes, he ends up stuck with Niekawa, and potentially tortured, but even that lacks a sense of finality or true resolution and feels so non-challant.
Instead of Mikado or Nishijima going beyond what they’ve become, they just regress back to who they were at the start of the story. Mikado ends up being friends with both Kida and Anri, and potentially will even end up dating/being with Anri. Kida will remain their friend, and all three of them are hunkey dorey as before. Just what have the three of these friends actually been through? Nothing really? I mean, they’ve grown closer, but even that is meaningless because that’s about what happened at the end of the first series.
So the whole Mikado storyline, with the guns, and the Dollars and all of that stuff is now gone. Was Mikado manipulated by both Izaya and Aoba? Or was it actually some kind of twisted complex that resulted from being around inhuman entities like Anri and Celty? We’ll never really know, because the show never bothers to really even resolve or touch on whatever it is that Mikado realizes. Instead of that, we just get a monologue of Mikado talking about going back to reality. A monologue that honestly just makes no sense, and feels like pretty words being thrown out to give some sense of connection and hollow realization.
And lets talk about Celty for a second too. Uhhh… So the whole thing with Celty’s head? Well it doesn’t lead to anything special. Shinra ends up slashing her with his new Saika sub powers, and ends up reverting her back to who she was, and doing so by also putting his life on the line. Shinra understands that Cetly can never really forget him, and instead of perhaps moving on and moving forward with her as a Dullahan and accepting her for who she is, the two just regress back to whatever they’ve always been.
Celty’s head gets separated from her body again, and she and Shinra ride off into the dawn. The head itself heads to Chicago, with Seiji and Mika both chasing after it. Nothing really changes for any of these characters. The show takes great pains, in fact, to an unnatural degree, to just revert everything back to what it was. Nothing really changed, nothing really happened, all is well again, and these characters and their current relationships are just as iron clad.
Even characters like Varona and Shizou, who’ve been kind of the highlight of an otherwise choppy season, end up not really going anywhere. Varona just leaves for Russia, with a promise that she’ll return and fight Shizou for real next time. And while its great that Varona and Shizou have a great moment, the big battle between Shizou and Izaya ends up being nothing as well.
The big fight to the death? The big decisive moment that would settle this rivalary? It never actually happens. Shizou almost kills Izaya, but is stopped by Varona in the last moment. And while I can appreciate Shizou actually not going past the point of no return, i.e being a murderer, it still just feels like nothing really resolves on this front. Izaya ends up escaping and leaving town anyway, and its pretty clear that despite his injuries, he’s more than likely going to survive.
Yes, Izaya might want to leave the city that he’s grown so enamored with in the short term, but there’s a sense that he’ll be back some time anyway. And that pretty much brings us back to square one doesn’t it? I mean, Izaya’s going to continue messing with people, and monsters, and we’ll just keep repeating this cycle until the end of his life, right?
And What of Kujiragi? She ends up shifting from a somewhat villainous role to actually being kind of an anti-hero character. In her epilogue sequence, she ends up saving Ruribe, The Halloween Killer, and basically acts as a kind of savior for oddities by the end of the series. Kujiragi doesn’t really get much of a character arc either, not that she was a particularly interesting or deep character to begin with.
So that really is it, to be honest. Everyone’s fine, no one’s changed, nothing of any real consequence has happened, and the second series of Durarara!!x2 is over. To say that it feels like a waste of time is putting it lightly.
While I’ve always recommended Durarara!!’s original series as something that every anime fan needs to experience, I’ll forever caution people from watching this sequel. Its a truly painful experience, to see something that you adore and love slowly but surely dive into mediocrity and just become plain boring and useless.
Durarara!! was a franchise that I was in love with, and its through this second series and seeing the story that I longed to see completed, that I wonder if I should’ve just been content with season 1. I don’t know if the actual source material is better, because there’s stuff that’s obviously been cut out, or if this story just crumbles by the end of the first series, but it all just ended up being a huge let down.
Could I have imagined that I’d get a second season of Durarara!! ? Not really. I had all but given up hope, and then when the series came up anyway, it was just such a shock to see all the magic, all the power of the franchise just wash away with the times. I’ve spoken at length about why Durarara!!x2 doesn’t work, but I think its worth summarizing my thoughts on its problems at the end of the series and franchise anyway.
The first problem was that the pacing, content and general storytelling was just too unfocused and weak. Durarara!!’s original series had pacing nailed down to absolute perfection. Every episode told a very satisfying stand alone story, and each story then connected in some way to the next, with smaller questions being answered immediately, and bigger ones popping up over the course of the series.
Durarara!!x2 was the opposite. It held its cards close to the chest, it waited ages and ages before answering questions that it should’ve answered immediately and its unfocused, parallel storytelling was just too ambitious and too mismanaged to be particularly enjoyable.
The second problem, was the fact that the series was just too precious with its characters and didn’t want to change them or anything else in the series, It just kept on adding characters, trying to juggle them all, and refused to move forward or change anything really. There was always the illusion of something coming, or something happening, but by the end of it all, we’d be back to where we started. That lack of progression, really hurt this series, and stands in great contrast to the first one.
Durarara!!’s original series threw loop and curve after loop and curve. Mikado wasn’t just a normal high schooler, he was the frigging founder of the Dollars. Kida had once been the leader of the yellow scarves gang. Celty wasn’t just some kind of oddity, she was in love with a human scientist. Izaya was a frigging complex character that we learned more and more about. Anri was the frigging Slasher. These were reveals and events that significantly changed the status quo and the nature of the story. There was no going back after these things happened, the story fundamentally changed, and it was that change that kept things interesting.
Durarara!!x2 never changed, and I know that’s been the theme of this post as a whole, but damn does it hurt. It hurts so bad, especially when you look at how this was supposed to be the so called conclusion and end of the story.
And then of course, the last issue for the series was the fact that the adaption just wasn’t done that well. Durarara!!x2 felt like it was missing story beats, that it tried to put in too many characters, and it felt like it wasted too much time on some things, and didn’t spend enough time on others. Narration was used sporadically, and made little sense. Characters like Akabayashi, that ended up not really playing that much of a major role, had entire episodes dedicated to them. Meanwhile other characters like Mikage never even got a proper backstory.
Hell Izaya’s motivations and hate for Shizou were never really properly explained or touched on, just given a little nod by other characters as they watched him and Shizou go at it.
So… At the end of it all, what is Durarara!!x2? Quite frankly, its a bad series that just tramples and destroys what was a beloved franchise. As I look back on my coverage of this second series, as sporadic as it has been, I can’t help but see a fan that constantly wanted and hoped for this show to get better, until the very end. There were a few moments of general brilliance tucked in to a story that never really went any where, but it was those moments that gave me some hope.
My hopes were never really answered though, and in the end, I guess it was just kind of sad to see how far the mighty franchise had fallen. Durarara!! as a franchise, at least to me, is over. I know there’s a sequel light novel series in the works, and quite frankly, I could care less. I’m so soured by this second installment, that I think I’m going to be permanently weary of series and sequels that I’m hoping for. Baccano! Season 2? Don’t want it. Hell, between this series and Blazblue, I’m worried about the upcoming Ace Attorney anime as well.
So yeah, If you hadn’t surmised by all the posts I’ve done on this series, I didn’t like Durarara!!x2. I wouldn’t recommend it, and I really do marvel at the tragedy and trainwreck that this series became. Durarara!!x2 is a cautionary tale of sorts, for fans and for Anime Production studios as well. Be Careful what you wish for, and be careful what you attempt, because you can really ruin a truly good thing if you’re not going to execute it a hundred percent.
And quite frankly, some stories and some franchises just don’t deserve sequels. I guess it just utterly and completely shocking that Durarara!! was a franchise that would’ve been better off being left alone. I suppose you never can really tell, can you.
The last thing I’ll ask, for anyone who read these posts, who participated in the comments and who actually went through till the end with me. What did you think? Was Durarara!!x2 worth your time? For those of you who’ve read the light novels, was this really it? Did the adaption just bungle something? Or was the story never really all that special.
I really want to know, because even after 36 episodes and going as far as to write about them, I’m still not entirely sure what happened here, and why. Maybe I’ll never really understand. Durarara!!x2 is just that kind of series.
Posted by setsuken
Posted on March 27, 2016 at 8:44 pm
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